"We do not practice zazen to attain enlightenment,
but rather to express our true nature."
Shunryu Suzuki Roshi
Old Plum Mountain: The Berkeley Zen Center, Life Inside the Gate
tells the story of the Berkeley Zen Center, one of the oldest, self-sustaining, lay
practice centers in the nation.
This 65-minute film traces Berkeley Zen Center's (BZC) beginnings when Shunryu Suzuki Roshi and BZC Abbot Sojun Mel Weitsman first established the Berkeley Zen Center in 1967. It features rare archival footage of Suzuki Roshi as he laid the foundation of Zen Buddhism as it is practiced today in America. What is unique about this film is that it's meant for a wide audience. The emphasis is on zazen practice in a lay setting, where members sit and practice as a way of life and together engage in a path of spiritual exploration.
The documentary eloquently shows how this practice has dramatically changed, challenged, and sustained their lives. It weaves a rich tapestry of Soto Zen's ancient ceremonies and rituals as expressed through BZC's practitioners as they do everyday mindful work, sew Buddha's Robe together, cook and serve food, and sit zazen (meditation).
Old Plum Mountain demonstrates how BZC has crafted this practice into a unique version of American Zen. Both inside and outside the gate, it tells the story of its members, men and women of all ages, who engage in this spiritual practice that is life changing, affirming, and transformative.